Customer Review

82 of 94 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Profound truth or dissociating from depression?, March 9, 2008
This review is from: Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life (Paperback)
While the book offers some insights into how cognitive therapy can relieve psychological pain, the obsessive way in which Byron Katie tries to solve everyone's problems by thinking them away strikes me as a form of dissociation.

First of all the cognitive therapy ideas that she offers up as astoundingly original ideas have been around long before the author "invented" them. She probably had years of this type of therapy before "realizing" that she was the founder of such insights.

However, the author's egotism isn't the problem. If she had just stuck to explaining a cognitive therapy approach, her work might have been useful. The problem is how she distorts cognitive therapy. Basically, Katie preaches a form of detachment therapy. No matter what has happened to a person, Katie figures out a way so that the person doesn't have to feel bad. Since Katie figured out her approach to problem-solving while in the middle of a severe depression, I can understand that she felt desperate to turn off her terrible feelings. And it seems to me that she figured out a mind game to do it. No matter what the circumstances, Katie can rationalize away all bad feelings. But, in doing so, she must deny all dependency needs on other people. She acts as if disappointment in others or rage at others is just a story that can be rewritten. It's as if she ended her depression by ending all sense of emotional dependence on others. Now maybe for her own personal reasons, she is incapable of enduring the "bad" feelings that come with emotional intimacy. But, spending all one's time and effort into stopping such feelings seems like a defense mechanism rather then a grand, final truth.

I read her interview with a teen who was in a large family and was struggling with disappointments and resentments towards his family. Rather than validating his feelings and empathizing with his struggles and then maybe offering some coping strategies, she focuses exclusively on getting him to think away his difficult feelings.

The worst part of her approach is how she takes it to such an extreme. It doesn't matter if someone was raped, she will "turnaround" the situation, so that the victim shouldn't feel bad about what happened. Often people in extremely destructive relationships discount their feelings of despair, and her ideas could certainly encourage such discounting.

I think her approach stems more from fear of strong feelings than anything else. She doesn't offer wisdom about how to manage difficult relationships, rather she offers a highly intellectual method for dissociating from them.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 9, 2010 5:59:16 PM PDT
L. Hower says:
Thank you for clarifying for me the underlying philosophy of The Work. I am a clinical social worker, and I often use cognitive therapy to help my patients cope with difficult experiences. It sounds like the process of The Work results in invalidating all feelings. LRH

Posted on Sep 24, 2010 8:58:30 PM PDT
LindaT says:
I agree with you, Sonya, especially about her handling of rape in the "turnaround" way. Very helpful review!

Posted on Aug 2, 2012 11:20:01 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Sep 17, 2012 7:50:13 AM PDT
Sonya what you wrote is your truth and will not be invalidated by me or anyone else. You used the term "I" a lot, and wondered if you could put your ego aside, and look again at the book.

Posted on Sep 18, 2012 6:42:58 AM PDT
Goldensky says:
I bought the book years ago and threw it away in disgust the moment I finished it. But upon hearing some good critiques about it recently, I thought I'd give the author another chance and bought the audio book, just in case I had missed the message the first time. Boy, this is even worse! Once more, the author comes across to me as such an absurd and arrogant person! Already her pompous, monotonous tone of voice is extremely irritating, but if you add to that her ridiculous and simplistic approach to the subject, it's hard to believe she can be considered seriously by anybody. What saddens me the most, though, is the way she treats the beautiful people that come to her for help. She's rude, interrupting them continuously, she ridicules what they say (since when should a parent not tell his child that lying is wrong? Since when is it objectionable to tell your boyfriend you expect him to be monogamous? Is your child's suffering really "none of your business"? Should a sensitive teenager be made to feel bad for trying to get his family to accept him as he is?) and all she offers in the end is a preposterous philosophy that goes against all logic. I'm sincerely happy for all those whom her approach may have helped, but it's beyond my understanding why so many people seem to be captivated by her. The only explanation that comes to my mind is that it's very hard for humans to speak up and say "the emperor has no clothes". Then again, I may be the one who is in the wrong. Maybe she's really great and I just don't grasp it. Just in case, I apologize in advance to all those whom my review may offend. Sincerely, all the best to each one of you.
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